KENYA – Manufacturers have petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to lift the ban on plastic bags, warning that it could cripple the economy.

Under the aegis of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), they instead want the Government to create a waste management system to contain the menace.

The lobby has put up a spirited fight against the ban despite the Government maintaining it will not budge on the September implementation date.

The ban, gazetted On February 28, targets carrier bags, plastic bags with handles as well as flat bags – those without handles – used by consumers to carry goods.

Regional exporter

KAM says going ahead with the ban could cost the economy more than 500,000 jobs while the Government also stands to lose an estimated Sh5 billion in tax revenue.

“The direct employment created by the plastic and rubber sector is estimated to be over 2.89 per cent of the Kenyan employees. Indirect employment through retailers, wholesalers and outlets is over 600,000 personnel nationwide,” says KAM in the petition.

Plastic bag manufacturers are estimated to employ up to 9,000 people both directly and indirectly, according to the petition.

KAM has urged President Kenyatta in the petition to develop a sustainable plastic waste management strategy and an implementation plan focusing on industry players who use, manufacture and import plastics.

The lobby says creating an alternative waste management system will help create jobs and revenue from processes such as waste collection, transportation, segregation and recycling.

KAM also proposes the formation of a Waste Management Board Levy to be charged on all plastics at source at one per cent cost, insurance and freight value.

They argue recycling has already seen generation of energy fuel and manufacture of materials such as pipes used in buildings.

“These efforts are on going in the country and need to be enhanced and supported for the impact to the environment is felt through public private partnerships,” says the lobby.

The group notes that between 1995 and 2006, Kenya was the second largest plastic packaging developer on the continent, raising the country’s profile as a regional exporter.

It warns the ban would affect Kenya’s competitive edge within the region and increase the country’s trade deficit estimating, with the sector said to contribute almost $250 million worth of exports to countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Central Africa.

KAM also wants the removal of the existing Sh120 excise duty on shopping bags. In May, KAM had petitioned the National Assembly to have the ban reversed.

But in June, the National Environment Management Authority said the ban would not be reversed and warned that manufacturers found producing the bags would be prosecuted as would supermarkets using the bags to package items for their customers.

August 3, 2017: The Standard